Good afternoon, bloggers!!
I am sad to say (and I feel awful for it) that I am a day late in posting this interview. I do have a reasonable excuse, which I choose not to divulge in. BUT, if you will, please help me welcome today’s Featured Guest…RYAN PARMENTER. I am so very happy to have him visit my blog. He has this awesome book out, HYPERBOLE. You simply MUST check it out!!! (Links are below!)
1) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing, but for many years I doubted that I would ever have the patience to write something long-form like a novel. I tired writing a novel in junior high school. It was sort of a supernatural revenge story. I read a lot of Stephen King when I was probably too young to be reading a lot of Stephen King, and “The Shining” was my favorite book at age 13. I got probably 50 pages into my “novel,” tiny print scrawled on loose leaf paper. I still have it tucked away in a bin somewhere. I should probably dig it up and scan as evidence that I’ve been off-kilter for a long time. Anyway, I was several years out of college before I had the interest and dedication to actually finish a novel, which I did in early 2007. The first one is still unpublished. I have considered it a dry-run.
2) Where do you find inspiration for story ideas?
Myself, loved ones, despised ones, and good old stupid America. If there are mistakes being made, or the potential is there, I think it’s ripe for reimagining. Poor choices, misfortune, and short-sightedness are the main elements of my fiction. I take somewhat of a Coen Brothers view of the world—there are some genuine people out there, but most are stupid, selfish, cowardly, petty, antisocial, crazy, or some combination thereof. I’m all of those things sometimes, although I like to think I have a good heart at the end of it.
3) What part of writing do you find most exhilarating? Most difficult?
Figuring out how to tie up plot threads in ways that are surprising and not cheap-feeling is exhilarating to me. Figuring out where my characters need to end up, and how to get them there without having to re-write a lot of stuff, is pretty cool. I’m not a big outliner. I like to have a good idea of what the ending ought to be, but only a vague idea of how to get there. If we start at A and we know we’re ending up at Z, the stuff around M and N can be pretty daunting, especially if there are revelations that you have to hold back until, let’s say X. Have I just spoiled novel-writing by portraying it as algebra?
4) What has been your biggest accomplishment as a writer?
I feel the most accomplishment actually getting to the end of a book. I’ve written two novels and published one of them. The process of publishing and promoting is a lot of work, and it’s really great when it seems to be paying off in the sense of people reading and enjoying what I’ve written. But the most rewarding thing is my own joy at finishing the story I started. It’s a real high. If I can amuse myself, it’s a success.
5) Please entice the readers with some details on what they will find in your novel, HYPERBOLE.
Within a few pages of Hyperbole, it becomes apparent that the narrator is a dick. Harland is not a nice guy. He has some redeeming qualities, but he has an awful lot of issues to address. Meanwhile, he lives in a speculative United States where Washington, DC has been completely leveled by terrorists. There is only a temporary government, but things seem to have continued somewhat, if only by momentum. As the new election approaches, Harland begins to receive phone calls from someone who claims to be himself from the future. And then he and his friends get their hands upon a mysterious device used by a new faction of terrorists. Things get pretty weird and hilarious from there.
6) Tell us about your process in creating the characters.
The approach I took with Harland was similar to the approach that I’ve heard Larry David took when creating the “Larry David” character for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Apparently David decided to create the character based upon a lot of the rotten tendencies that he feels, but that the character gets to be much more of a jerk than he ever could be in real life. I found that fascinating, and I found myself taking a similar approach. So Harland is, in a lot of ways, the worst aspects of me. I like to think that I could never be as brash or lazy or dismissive or pessimistic as Harland, but there are definitely kernels of my worst self in his composition. As far as other characters, some are based very loosely on people I have known—former employers, former coworkers, friends, relatives. But usually it’s just one trait that I will borrow and then flesh out with fictional details. And then there’s Todd Crabs, the intellectual redneck. I can’t say that I know anyone like him, so sometimes it’s purely imagination and what the story seems to need.
7) What do you hope readers experience from this debut novel?
I want readers to laugh and consider perspectives that they may not have considered. The story takes place in a universe very similar to our own, so it’s a heightened, satirical reality. But that reality is also being experienced through the eyes of a rather troubled individual. I think that combination makes for a reading experience that is probably pretty far from the typical mass-market fiction. It’s certainly not for everyone, and I’m comfortable with it being a love-it or hate-it kind of work. So far, the feedback has been favoring the love-it side, which is cool. Various reviewers have commented on a lot of different aspects of the story, so like anything else, everyone is going to take away their own experience. It probably depends mainly upon whether you can identify with or even tolerate the narrator.
8) What, in your opinion, makes your writing unique?
I tend to inject a lot of odd humor into my stories. I have my own sensibilities about what is funny, or what is so absurd that it’s funny, or what is offensive but still funny. I’m not afraid to be offensive, especially when it can be chalked up to the narrator being not the nicest individual. But there has to be a point to it. It’s never blatant racism or blatant sexism; there’s always a commentary on racism or sexism. Some might say that there are never excuses to have that kind of offensive content, but I think that line of criticism overlooks subtext and the power of irony. I am not afraid to let the reader fill in some blanks here and there. I am writing for a literate, intelligent readership, even if I write the occasional fart joke.
9) What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Amuse yourself. If you can’t amuse yourself, you’re not likely to amuse others. There’s the trope: “Write what you know.” But I would augment that with: Write what you fear. Write what upsets you. Write what makes you laugh. And then, if you want a happy ending, write what makes you feel better. Through all of that, keep it as concise as possible. Keep the details and descriptive language relevant to the plot and to the themes you’re exploring.
10) What can we expect in future projects?
Comedy and tragedy, my favorite pairing. I expect to write at least one real horror novel someday. But otherwise, more comic/tragic weirdness, which I feel is my specialty. In the shorter term, I’m fleshing out a new novel, and I plan to release a short fiction collection later this year. I would like to revisit, revise, and release the first novel I wrote at some point.
11) Aside from writing, you are also a comic improviser and musician. Do these play any roles in your writing career?
Definitely. As an improviser, you learn to focus on finding “the truth of the scene.” I find that writing fiction requires a similar exercise. In an improve scene, there is dialogue, action, character dynamics, motivation, and heightening of whatever running jokes are established. Those are all helpful things to consider when writing scenes in fiction. I’m not sure that music is as good an analogy, but here’s a shot: Much like a song, a story has an introduction, some themes that are established, maybe some variations on those themes, and then you figure out how to conclude the work in a way that is appropriate to what has led there. On the topic of music, I guess I should also note that I recorded a short soundtrack of songs based upon song titles mentioned throughout Hyperbole. They’re pretty ridiculous, but you can find them on Amazon and iTunes if that sounds interesting. I had never heard of someone doing a soundtrack for a book, so I thought it would be funny to record Hyperbole: The Original Novel Soundtrack. Google it. It exists.
12) Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?
I am grateful to readers willing to take a chance on indie authors. The modern ease of self-publishing is a slippery slope, because that means more content and options for readers, but not necessarily more great content. As always, word-of-mouth feedback from readers is the best way to sort through some of that clutter and to find some of the great stuff that may not have a decent promotional budget. So, thank you to the readers who have picked up my book, and thank you to those who have helped to spread the word and get it recognized amidst the millions of available entertainment options. Readers can always check out the first chapter of Hyperbole for free on Amazon. Amazon Prime members can borrow and read the entire eBook for free. Fans of audiobooks should check out the unabridged audiobook that I narrated and produced. And for traditionalists, there is a trade paperback edition. Check out ryanparmenter.com for more info.
Thank you so much for the interview, Marlena!
Below are the websites where you can
stalk follow and learn more about this talented writer!
E-Book on Amazon:
I hope you enjoyed another edition of My Blog’s Featured Guest!! I look forward to my next visitor!! 🙂
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Until next time…………………………………HAPPY READING & REVIEWING!!